Embracing Authentic Travel: How to Use Curiosity as Your Compass

by | Apr 5, 2020

Travel authentically to Tobermory
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Last updated on October 26th, 2021

We are all connected.

If there is one thing we know as travellers, it’s that we are all connected.  The recent COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated this tenet in ways that will redefine how we travel and think about travel for years to come.

JourneyWoman is a community of women who love to travel and share a common set of values and interests, in service to those of us who want to experience our world on our own terms.  We passionately advocate authentic travel as a core principle formed by the vision of Evelyn Hannon, echoed by the chorus of thousands of JourneyWoman who are guided by a belief that we all can make the world a better place.

From childhood and throughout our adult lives, the allure of travel for self-discovery, for adventure, for work and for pleasure grants us the privileged opportunity to expand our understanding of the planet we share.   The bounty of wonder that travel bestows is a gift created by the breathtaking grandeur of nature, by the preservation of ancient artifacts, by the diversity of humankind and the tapestry of cultures that express what is unique and what is common to all.

Authentic travel feeds our imagination, enriches our vocabulary, validates our values and enlists our contribution to protect the physical and emotional benefits that curiosity yields.  The characteristics of authentic travel are unmistakeable, acting with the intention that everything is connected.  We meet others as they are, equals on their own path. We feel called to courage, curiosity and generosity, and inspired to take action to make our world a better place.



“Authentic travel is the experience that is created when you connect and engage the world with curiosity as your compass.”

  • Authentic travellers pursue the wisdom of history, the beauty of culture and the wonder in our world found in moments both expansively big and surprising small
  • Authentic travellers seek places that are less traveled preferring the thousands of incredible towns and villages that reflect the true character of their culture
  • Authentic travellers act with intentionality always aware and accountable for the impact of our decisions on the earth. Environmental stewardship is a calling that accepts the responsibility required to protect nature, cultures and communities for future generations
  • Authentic travellers accept their role in carbon reduction, choosing every available means to reduce, recycle and reuse as a pledge of gratitude for the privilege to explore the world

  • Authentic travellers are not tourists but guests, knowledgeable and respectful of the rituals and traits that herald diversity.  These experiences create a vast inventory of memories and stories that shape how we teach, how we become role models and mentors, seeking to influence positive change.
  • Authentic travellers actively empower women and girls and embrace local communities as the backbone of tourism, and support women-owned businesses, including tours, hotels and restaurants.
  • The mosaic of humanity is the nourishment of our souls.  Multiculturalism fosters tolerance, poverty teaches compassion, innocence incites joy, art expresses history and curiosity emboldens confidence.

What can we do to embrace authenticity when we travel?

Choose places that are off the beaten track

Popularity has its price. In many cities around the world, the natural environment and local way of life have been deeply impacted by tourism. Staying home won’t help our world, but we can make better choices about where we travel. There are thousands of other places that desperately need tourism dollars. Do your research and seek those places out.

Be a traveller, not a tourist

  • Learn a few words of the local language, as noted in this classic Journeywoman article!
  • Respect the local culture, its customs, and traditions, including what you wear.

 Reduce your footprint

  • Don’t create waste.
  • Use cloth bags and avoid plastic.
  • Walk or take transit as much as possible.
  • Engage with wildlife in an ethical way.
  • Pack lightly.
  • Be careful what you eat, even if it is a local delicacy.

Support local businesses

  • Seek out locally-owned restaurants, hotels, tours, and guides.
  • Seek out women-owned businesses.
  • Enjoy local farm to table and community eating, as described by Nancy Simpson in her article “Table for One”.
  • Shop locally.

Share your stories of self-discovery and growth.

What else would you add to this list?  Please comment below!

As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


  1. Felix Andries

    I appreciate your article, Carolyn. The authenticity idea must be part of any traveler’s mind when they start a journey.

  2. Katharine Weinmann

    An interesting synchronicity as I’m reading this article after seeing a short video interview of the late, great advocate of “responsible tourism,” Anthony Bourdain, akin to authentic travelling. (https://humanconnections.org/blog/2019/2/4/anthony-bourdain-and-my-introduction-to-responsible-travel)
    He described an incident he naively “sparked” when in post earthquake Haiti, filming an episode, he bought all the food from the local kiosk to feed the group of starving children gathered to watch him. A fight broke out among the small children, larger kids and adults who resorted to hitting with sticks. He pointed out the dilemmas, responsibilities, unanticipated and unintended yet negative consequences and impacts of our travelling.

  3. Deb Zaluda

    No doubt authenticity leads to responsible and impactiful and purposeful travel. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Deb Zaluda

    With authenticity comes Responsible, Impactful, Purposeful travel. Well done. Its how all travel should be!

  5. Chris Fey

    Great article. I’m looking for information on slow travel to Italy (I e week long cooking class) followed by more time in local community


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